Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Legal Eagle on R.I. SSM

Joanna Grossman has published an analysis of the ruling on Massachusetts/Rhode Island same-sex marriages, on FindLaw. Last week, a Superior Court judge here okayed R.I. couples marrying in Massachusetts.

Among her conclusions on the short-term effects are:
  • If they stay here, "their union will be valid and binding in that state (though not for any federal purpose, such as income taxes)."
  • If they intend to move to and live in Massachusetts, they don't have to sue anyone to do so.
  • If they want to move somewhere else, other than R.I., at "least for now, they are probably out of luck: Again, almost all other states have enacted a statute or constitutional amendment explicitly refusing to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages."
  • If they return to R.I., they could sue to have their marriage recognized there.
  • They "could win even if Rhode Island does not itself decide to legalize the performance of same-sex marriages. Traditionally, states honored marriages performed in other states, as long as they didn't violate a strong public policy of the state asked to extend recognition to the marriage."
  • R.I. does not have a strong anti-SSM policy and no law forbidding it.
She added that in 1819, Massachusetts forbade interracial marriage and Rhode Island did not. The Bay State high court accepted the marriage of a R.I. couple for comity's sake.

Grossman concludes:
Rhode Island would do well now to return the favor, and allow Massachusetts couples' marriages recognition in Rhode Island. Soon, we will learn whether the spirit of comity is as alive now in Rhode Island, as it was in Massachusetts so many years ago.

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